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Game of Kings, The by Dorothy Dunnett

Game of Kings, The (1961)

by Dorothy Dunnett

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Title:Game of Kings, The
Authors:Dorothy Dunnett
Info:Arrow, Paperback, 640 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett (1961)

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Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
The Game of Kings, by Dorothy Dunnett has so many five star reviews that I am wondering what I am missing. I gave it almost 80 pages and I can't get into it at all. The plot doesn't seem to have any direction, I can't keep the characters straight, and I couldn't care less about the characters or what is happening to them. The distant and erudite tone of the book is strange and off-putting to me. It does not draw me in but instead makes me feel as is everything is happening far away in place and time. Each chapter jumps to a completely different scene so there has been little continuity in the storyline so far. In addition, the dialogue is full of literary and classical allusions, none of which I get, and which therefore do not draw or hold any interest for me. The positive reviews promise that in the end it is an unforgettable book, but I'm not seeing that so far and life is too short to push on reading something I'm not enjoying. ( )
  sbsolter | Feb 6, 2014 |
I grew up with this book. Quite literally, as a wonderful medieval history teacher gave it to me as a "bonus read" in 9th grade, when it was first published. Way over my head, I was still fascinated and enthralled with the story. Many (!) years later I still enjoy reading Lymond's story, as the pleasure of Dame Dunnett's descriptive prose, sense of humor and inventive imagination is unique and quite wonderful. Give this story and the subsequent books in the series time to grow on you; I promise you will grow with it and find great enjoyment. ( )
  BarbN | Jan 20, 2014 |
Wow. Really dense historical fiction with tons of references, characters and a game-like plot.
  karrinina | Nov 13, 2013 |
I'll be honest...this was a very difficult book to read. I think it was the edition, which looks photocopied, which is just horrible for a trade paperback version (for shame, Vintage Books). If publishers are going to be shoddy, then just release it as an ebook, for god's sake.

But I just couldn't get into the so-called dashing antihero. Also, the character expositions are explained via dialogue, which means you really have no clue who these people are. Then, the lines of dialogue are not separated, so you don't know when one character stops speaking and another has begun. Again, this could be the shoddy printing, but really badly done.

I am a big fan of historical fiction, so I could barely wait to get my hands on this volume, but it simply wasn't worth it. If I want a teleplay with dialogue, I can watch TV. These historical figures did exist and deserve so much better.

Book Season = Summer (you might want to leave it in the sand) ( )
  Gold_Gato | Sep 16, 2013 |
Many people have recommended Dorothy Dunnett to me, and I can see why — her writing is fluent, historically well-informed, and full of interesting cultural references of the sort I normally enjoy — but I still found it a struggle to get through this novel, which sat on my shelf with a bookmark about two-thirds of the way through for many months.

Essentially, what Dunnett serves up in this (which is only her first historical novel, so this may not apply to all her work) is pastiche Sir Walter Scott. The story is set in the Scottish Borders and Edinburgh in the 1540s, slap-bang in core Sir Walter country, and it is richly sown with obscure snatches of Border ballads, Provençal songs, Dante, and all the rest. Dunnett takes just as much pleasure as Sir Walter in obscure Scotticisms, and never hesitates to use a rare word when a common one would do the job just as well. She has Scott's taste for complicated plotlines that need huge amounts of back-story to render them intelligible to the reader, and even something of Scott's rather absent-minded approach to dialogue, with characters quite capable of switching in the course of a page from broad Scots to talking-like-a-book and back again. She doesn't take the same interest as Scott in theology, but she does follow his example in making key plot elements depend on obscure points of archaic Scottish law. All of which would be perfectly creditable in a book published in the 1830s, perhaps a little old-fashioned in the 1860s, and only becomes a bizarre outbreak of ultra-conservatism when you appreciate that Dunnett was writing this when Harold MacMillan was Prime Minister...

So, what's wrong with it? For me, the main failing (apart from the horrible airbrush cover-art of the Arrow paperback that makes it look like the sort of book you have to be 14 years old to enjoy) was that the characters are too flat to sustain a novel of this length. Lymond would make a great swashbuckling Errol Flynn character in the cinema, but on the printed page he's a bit of a one-trick pony. He may be skilful enough to win any fight and clever enough to win any argument, but he's still somehow got himself into the necessary situation of the thriller-hero where the English and the Scots armies are both after him, and (almost) everyone believes him guilty of appalling crimes. And then he goes on being the innocent man pretending for political reasons to be a villain for about 600 pages. The women are even more predictable; the only character that seems to develop at all in the course of the book is Lymond's brother, who does surprisingly well with the normally rather thankless role of the good-but-stupid man pushed into hatred by a misapprehension. The book is also far too long, and there is a good deal too much recapitulation of the complex plot points. We have to go through essentially the whole story again in the final trial scene: a few editorial cuts here and there would have helped a lot. But there is a lot of good stuff there too.

I haven't altogether given up on Dunnett: I've got a few of her later novels on the shelf still, so I will try one of those at some point to see if she learnt to breathe a little bit of individuality into her characters as she developed as a writer. ( )
1 vote thorold | Jul 27, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dorothy Dunnettprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gillies, SamuelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679777431, Paperback)

Praised for her historical fiction by critics and devoted fans alike, author Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles took the romance world by storm some 30 years ago, firmly fixing Dunnett's reputation as a master of the historical romance. The Game of Kings, the first story in The Lymond Chronicles, sets the stage for what will be a sweeping saga filled with passion, courage, and the endless fight for freedom. The setting is 1547, in Edinborough, Scotland. Francis Crawford of Lymond returns to the country despite the charge of treason hanging over his head. Set on redeeming his reputation, He leads a company of outlaws against England as he fights for the country he loves so dearly. Dangerous, quick-witted, and utterly irresistible, Lymond is pure pleasure to watch as he traverses 16th-century Scotland in search of freedom. The Game of Kings is a must-have for the historical romance connoisseur.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:22:00 -0400)

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Francis Crawford of Lymond, a notorious outlaw, returns to Scotland in 1547. He announces his arrival by setting fire to his estranged brother's castle. He then turns his attention to breaching Edinburgh's gates, which have been sealed to keep out British invaders.… (more)

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